Catechesis by the letter #4
Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Principle 2 is Faith, and the catechesis articulates the question and answer like this:
Q: What is faith?
A: Faith is trusting that my life and all time are in God's care and keeping because in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the world has been made right (Heb 11:1-2; John 3:16, 10:10; 2 Cor 5:7, 17-19; Rom 8:28-30)
The Interpreter helps his young reader recognize that faith in God is different to holding a belief in the existence of God (21) (as, I note, would James, 2:19). It is so important, then, that the active verb in the principle is trusting and not believing. Faith is 'a way of seeing, compelled not by the confidence that we understand but by the conviction that we desire what lies ahead.'(22) You can see how this fits Christian's journey in The Pilgrim's Progress. I'm in the middle of commenting on the conversation between Christian and Pliable right now and that conviction rings out from Bunyan's text. The principle admirably draws the individual out from the compass of their single life to consider 'all time' to fit the future orientation of faith.
The Interpreter weaves in the developing life of prayer into an explication of what living faith looks like. It is not about having all one's questions answered but being enveloped by a community and tradition of confession, articulated in the creeds. (I'm not convinced the creeds do what the Interpreter claims on the face of it : 'identifying the God we trust as the God of Israel, who is made known to us in Jesus of Nazareth' (24) given that neither Israel or Nazareth are mentioned, but the expectation that Scripture lies behind confession would secure this aright.)
Speaking from the believer's church perspective, the Interpreter still insists on personal confession of faith attesting an experience of grace. (26) That all who have faith in Christ belong through baptism to one church is then explored through the historical, but topical, dynamics of racial segregation that distorts the progress of the faith journey, by the 'powers of hatred, racism, and violence [that] still threaten.' (27) And so the Interpreter ends his letter commending a reading of 2 Cor 5:17 as not just about a person becoming a new creature in Christ, but the world being delivered as new creation from destruction. That is the theological interpretation of Jesus death and resurrection is kept central as the person and object of faith.